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LostInParadise's avatar

Did King Solomon use slave labor to build his temple?

Asked by LostInParadise (17934 points ) July 11th, 2012

I have seen such claims made. I did a Web search but did not come up with much. Is there anything in the Bible or in any other historical document or artifact to suggest that slaves were used?

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13 Answers

SomeoneElse's avatar

I would have thought he did, mainly because times/culture/politics/the whole shebang was so much different then. Rulers got where they were by ruthless slaughter of opponents and morals were probably quite different than we may perceive them.
People can’t have willingly put their names forward for all this building work, especially when there wasn’t a JCB/dumper truck/hard hat in sight!

Judi's avatar

Interesting question. I need to do more research, but this verse” 13¬†King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram,[g] 14¬†whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.” 1st Kings 7:13–14
Makes me think he hired the best skills craftsmen he could find.

phaedryx's avatar

If I remember correctly, the Freemasons claim that they go back to the original craftsmen of King Solomon’s temple. It might turn up some relevant information.

Nullo's avatar

@SomeoneElse He wouldn’t necessarily need slave labor; he was the king, and there were construction trades, and people were pretty gung-ho about the Temple. And without knowing about power equipment, there would be no loss to cope with.
Solomon was a hereditary monarch, not a king by conquest.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
starsofeight's avatar

I have read that Solomon used demons for slave labor.

filmfann's avatar

He did. It is pretty clear from 2 Chronicles 10:4.
(Previously, Solomon had the temple built. After his death, his son Rehoboam became king. The slaves then asked to have their burden eased.)

“Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you”

In 2 Chronicles 10:14, Rehoboam replied to the request of the slaves:)

“My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips’ I will scourge you with scorpions.”

Qingu's avatar

Slavery was perfectly legal, according to Biblical law. Hebrews could sell each other or themselves into temporary slavery. And the Bible says you can purchase slaves from foreigners as permanent property. The rules of warfare also say to enslave populations of cities you conquer.

So it seems likely that slaves were involved, assuming the story of Solomon is remotely historical.

phaedryx's avatar

@filmfann what about 1 Kings 9:22 or 2 Chronicles 8:9? Aren’t those scriptures you refer to talking about the children of Israel?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Could have been slaves, but more likely there was some percentage of workers from other tribes that had been beaten in the various wars that took place.

Are vanquished tribes slaves?

Qingu's avatar

@elbanditoroso, yes. See Deuteronomy 20:10.

LostInParadise's avatar

Based on @Qingu‘s comment, I did a Web search to see if Solomon is mentioned anywhere outside the Bible. I was surprised to see that there is no evidence. As a side question, do any of you know of any biblical figures referred to outside of the bible?

Qingu's avatar

I’m not sure if you’re limited to just the OT. I don’t believe any OT figures are mentioned anywhere else. The first historical mention of the Israel is the Egyptian Menerpteh stele around 1200 BC (which, somewhat ironically and sadly in light of subsequent history, brags about wiping them off the face of the earth). There is non-Biblical evidence of Yahweh-worshipers as well and archaeological evidence seems to strongly support the existence of Jewish kingdoms.

Jesus is mentioned by Roman historians (Josephus and Tacitus) but they were not contemporary with Jesus.

I am not familiar with anything else. Could be wrong, though.

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